Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow Style ~ September – November 2006

SoCal & back to the boat


Finally, it was time to head north. The thought of cool fog actually was enticing. We loaded the cats and all manner of other things in the van and took off. Two days later, we were in Chula Vista. After one night with our friend Sheri, who put us up with NO warning, we had to head right up to Long  Beach and the VA hospital so Martin could get blood work done prior to his appointment. Driving in California, and on the interstate, and being barraged with so much visual and auditory stimulation was a shock at first! It had been 14 months since our last visit in the States, but we quickly re-adjusted to most of it, found the places we needed to be, talked about the places we wanted to go (i.e., Taco Bell, Roberto’s in Chula Vista for burritos, good Japanese restaurants, our fave restaurant in Long Beach: Kings). Our very good friends Hans & Diane took us in once again, kitties and all, and we had a wonderful place to base our shopping and doctors visits from. Unfortunately, things at the VA went slower than we had hoped….and we were “stuck” waiting for things to happen…. but we filled the time with lots of shopping and buying! Robin even watched the TV show Oprah a few times.  We bought a Sirius radio system AND a new stereo, along with lots of cooking stuff (spices, gadgets, Asian noodle soups, sundried tomatoes…), and many things for the boat, like all the new engine parts, a new generator, stainless steel bolts & screws, etc. etc. etc.  The Sirius radio allows us to listen to any kind of music we want + news (if we should ever decide to listen to any of it…) + talk shows and even more….this is a satellite system, and cruising friends report they still are connected way down Panama way. Between shopping spurts, we did manage to see a few of our friends, like Fred & Helen of Cadenza, and the Durazo’s, all in the San Pedro area. Guess what we did to get together….?  We went out to dinner!!



                              Hans & Dianne on their boat Adios                                          Fred coming to greet us….                        ….and Helen on Cadenza                                            Meeting & eating with the Durazo’s and the Bozlers


We had so much STUFF to bring back to the boat, we had waaaayyy toooo much stuff to load in the van. So, we loaded two very large suitcases plus two boxes with as much of the stuff as we could, put them in the van along with our friend Kathleen – we were staying in her home in Chula Vista – and we took off across the border, then east to the village of Tecate, then south down the mountain and through the Baja wine country! We stopped at the large and modern L.A. Cetto vineyard and winery, where we sampled some nice wines and enjoyed the beautiful area. There is no charge for the wine tasting, and generous portions are poured, as well. Kathleen purchased some wine-filled dark chocolates that were soooo gooood, and we all took some wine with us. As we meandered down the road, we followed signs to a number of the small boutique wineries along the way. Some were not open, most were an adventure to find on the climbing, rutted, dirt roads, but all were fun and the ones we found open had some really nice wines. Our favorite was a tiny winery, operated by three women who each made her own variety. This was a true find!



                                                                                                          Visiting the L.A. Cetto winery                                                         Visiting a boutique winery along the way



We eventually reached Ensenada, where we headed straight for the bus depot. We put the suitcases and boxes on a bus headed south, where they would be off-loaded in Loreto, and friends were nice enough to pick them up for us. This way, we lightened the load and made for more room in the van on our drive back to the boat. Ensenada has many good restaurants and we went to one of our favorites for some good seafood before we drove the hour back to Chula Vista. It was a great day!


Finally, we were able to pick up our new “silent” (and there is a good reason we put that in quotes!!) generator, we had the van loaded after having almost $1000 of work done on it, we had spent all of our money and then some, so it was time to return to Pto. Escondido and The Cat’s Meow. Crossing the border with a van loaded with new goodies is always cause for some concern, but we got the green light and scooted across, through Tijuana (which is not representative of Mexico, or of Baja, at all!), and south. We spent one night in tiny El Rosario, paying under $30US for a nice new room in a small hotel. We spent another night in Loreto because we arrived there just before dark and chose not to try getting to the boat, with all we would need to transport from the van, so late. There were no rooms at the place we wanted to stay, but….the yurt was available!! “Whatsayurt?” you might ask… well, here is a photo:


 A night’s lodging was in a yurt, in Loreto



This was our accommodation for the evening, after a fine meal at a new sushi restaurant a block away. It was good to be “back home”, and interesting to spend a night in a yurt, complete with TV and AC! The next morning we headed for the harbor and the boat. Friends on Afroessa and Calliope were waiting to pick us up at the dinghy dock and to ferry us out to the boat – it is so great to have so many wonderful people in our lives! It took a few dinghy loads but we transferred lots of stuff from the van to the boat, including the kitties. It took three days to unpack and to stow everything – it was quite crowded on The Cat’s Meow for a while. Our suitcases and boxes, which had come down via the bus, were already on the boat, to boot! As always, getting back to our home, and to Puerto Escondido, was wonderful. We loved being back where we can see ALL the stars at night, look out at the calm beautiful harbor, and be with so many good friends.


We had the engine parts onboard, our new generator, lots of goodies, and now it was time to get TCM’s engine put back together. All we needed was a tow to get the boat from Pto. Escondido to La Paz, about 120 miles away – not easy to come by. Many boats were coming through the port on the way to La Paz, but some had their own boat problems and some just didn’t want to attempt such a task. We waited. And we waited. And waited. This was difficult. We were SO ready to get on with it. But we sat on our mooring and waited. We talked to boaters, we asked for someone to give us a tow, we practically begged.  During these weeks, Martin worked on building a swimstep for The Cat’s Meow. Lyle & Lynn, of Chez Lynn, had given us their swimstep when it was removed for some remodeling they did on their boat, so it was the “center” of our new one. Then….Houston & Gail, on Blew Moon – neighbors to TCM in the port – returned from a trip in the States and said they would give us the tow, as they were going to La Paz, too!! Yaahoooo!! Martin had readied many things, but now he moved into high gear and prepared the boat for such an event. We needed a good weather window, so every day we listened on the single sideband radio to the “weather gurus”. It was decided for the two boats to leave on Sunday morning, the 19th of the month. Ben (Calliope) volunteered to crew with Martin on TCM, and a friend named Bill joined Blew Moon. Robin decided to jump ship with the two cats and to drive to La Paz in the van.


Just then….on the 18th, Jean & Myron who have a home in a nearby community, were having a “Pimp & Ho’ Party”. Well, we didn’t want to miss this one! A few of the cruisers had actually gathered up quite interesting attire for such an event, so the night before the boats left for the trip to La Paz, we attended the party. What a hoot! It is amazing what costumes can be improvised, even by people living on small boats and in palapas! Champagne was at each table, entertainment was provided by Fred & Red on Moon Me, there were goodies to eat (Robin’s fave was the chocolate fountain!!), and a great time was had by all! This was also a fundraiser for the school in Loreto, which made the party even more fun. Get a look at some of the pimps n’ ho’s in attendance:




Blew Moon, with The Cat’s Meow in tow, left Pto. Escondido at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, and hoped to ride straight through the night, and if all went well they expected to arrive in La Paz late Monday morning. Robin said her “adios’s” during the Sunday brunch in Pto. Escondido, and drove with the cats in the van down to La Paz. She was able to stay at friend Pat’s nice home – kitties were able to rest inside, as well – while she waited for her home to arrive.


TCM following Blew Moon out the harbor                                        Rough water on the way to La Paz


Robin ran into many friends as she visited the marinas before getting to Pat’s home. It was like “old home week”, with so many cruisers wishing her well with the boat and welcoming her and Martin back to La Paz. The boats checked-in on the SSB radio morning nets, and friends contacted Robin at Pat’s house to tell her they were OK and were headed in to La Paz. When Blew Moon and The Cat’s Meow arrived at Marina Palmira about 11 a.m., there were many people with dinghies and on the dock, ready to assist TCM to the dock. The guys had all planned the moves to be made, via the VHF radio, lines were prepared, and all was ready……then the wind came up with a vengeance! It is no easy task to move and dock a boat with no engine, especially in tight quarters, and then add strong gusts of wind. This was not fun. But, with perseverance and muscles and dinghies, TCM was finally tied up to the dock once more. Once again, we have many good boating friends to thank for their assistance. It really is wonderful to be a part of such a great community  


                                 Here they come into the marina                                 Lots of help to push TCM to the dock


The tow had gone well, but the seas had been terrible. It was a good thing Robin had not known how difficult the ride had been; she would have worried even more than she did. Both boats had spent most of the 28 hours rolling and pitching, side to side, throwing all manner of things around inside both of them. It wasn’t dangerous, but very uncomfortable, for everyone. Now, this part of our adventure was over, and we could relax a bit, find the mechanic “Marteeeen”, and get ready for Thanksgiving.


Once again, Martin & Robin joined throngs of other (mostly) cruiser-types for giving thanks and eating ‘till we popped. We spent a lot of our time seeing people we had not seen since April, or longer, and trying to catch up a bit. There was plenty of food for everyone, and lots left overs for second helpings of turkey and many of the side dishes. Club Cruceros provided the turkey & gravy, plates & cups, Marina Palmira provided the tables, chairs, flower centerpieces, and a great venue for the whole thing.



                              Thanks-giving feast for cruisers                                                Dishing up the turkey & gravy                              Maitairoa friends Alex & Sue enjoy                               Martin & Robin had a great time too


Just a couple of days after Thanksgiving, some of us helped Martin celebrate his birthday for 2006. Ten of us went to the Hacienda Cortez, a very pretty and comfortable local restaurant & bar, where we enjoyed viewing the sunset and then had a relaxing and tasty meal. Yes….yet another meal with friends!!!




     Sunset, birthday celebration, friends                                                                                                                                                                              Birthday boy




Now we are at the end of the month of November, 2006. We are looking directly at another Christmas holiday, and we hope to have visitors from the east and the southwest. It does not look as if we will make it to “the other side” of Mexico – the Puerto Vallarta area, until next year. Just in case we do, check in with us and see, next time on Cruising ~ The Cat’s Meow style…..